Personal cloud? It's an external hard drive!

Jennifer Scott Opinion
9 Jan, 2012

The cloud becomes victim to yet another dose of ‘cloud-washing’ from hardware vendors.

If you have come across this blog before, you may have noticed my mini-crusade against companies “cloud-washing” their products.

Numerous firms, including large legacy hardware providers, often stick the buzzword “cloud” onto an old in-house system just to try and jump on the bandwagon and convince people they are making a play in one of the biggest areas of technology.

I thought I was about as frustrated as I could get with this, but it seems 2012 has brought a new swathe of cloud-washing that has discovered a new level of anger inside me I didn’t even know existed!

Since returning from my Christmas break – doesn’t it seem so long ago now? – I have had numerous press releases sent to me about “personal clouds.” To me, a personal cloud would be something like Facebook or Flickr, cloud-based systems that are for your personal life.

But apparently this train of thought is wrong. A personal cloud is something you have at home to store your own documents, music, pictures etc. I even had a friend ask me over a pint about getting a personal cloud of his own – yes, tech journalists do become tech support for their buddies.

But, hang on, isn’t the point of a cloud that you don’t have it onsite? Or you at least don’t manage it? Or bare minimum it is pay as you go?

These products hitting the market are not clouds in any way, shape or form. They are external hard drives.

I used to work as a storage journalist on our sister title IT Pro and I am the first to get excited about numerous terabytes sat humming away on my desk. But how dare you try to convince me, or try to trick unsuspecting customers, that these are cloud systems. They are not!

The hardware is sat in front of you, you have to manage it yourself and, unless you buy it on credit, you are paying for the maximum storage upfront. There is no scalability as you buy the maximum you think you will need and the maximum automation you will get is a piece of software you set up to backup files from your PC.

I am a hybrid consumer. I use both cloud storage online and have external hard drives at home. Who knows, I might end up having everything in the cloud one day – although not until I get rid of my shoddy internet connection. But don’t try and say my meaty disks on my desk are anything more than hardware.

If you are interested in cloud storage, there is plenty out there to try out, or feel free to stay with external drives. Just don’t listen to hardware vendors trying to disguise themselves as Virtual Cloudsviders – it is a lie.

Sign up for our free newsletter